I receive a Vegetable and Fruit CSA delivery every other week and often the produce is damp. Between trial and error and some research, I have found the proper way to store common vegetables and fruits to get the max lifespan out of them.
Lettuces often bite the dust first. Too much moisture and they get soggy and gooey. Too dry and they wilt. I will keep lettuce in the plastic bag (you may use a storage container as well) and then gently wrap it with a dry paper towel if the produce is wet. If the produce is bone dry, then include a damp paper towel.
I also wrap Chard, Spinach & Collard Greens in the same way. They are a little bit heartier, but also need some moisture monitoring.
Tomatoes – Just like in the grocery store, keep them out. Try to use them within 3 days. If they need some more ripening, but in a paper bag.
Strawberries are tough. I recommend eating them within 24 hours. To prolong their little red lives, put in the refridgerator but they will lose their sheen and start to wrinkle. An alternative is to take all the berries that you haven’t eaten within 24 hours, and clean, chop & freeze.
Store Tender Herbs by snipping off the bases of the stems and removing any discolored or wilted leaves. Transfer them to a large mason jar with an inch of water in the bottom.
Store Hardy Herbs by arranging them lengthwise in a single layer on a slightly damp paper towel, rolling them up like a jelly roll, then transfer the bundle to a plastic zipper lock bag or wrap it in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator.
If you have Basil or any fragile herb with roots, go ahead and store in water outside the fridge just like cut flowers.
Needs Ripening or the Paper Bag Treatment
Bananas – Never ever in the fridge unless you like brown bananas! Ripen bananas in a closed paper bag. You can do double duty and ripen an avocado faster by pairing it with the banana in the bag.
Mushrooms -Although they are often sold loose or in a container, it’s best to store them in a paper bag. The paper will help keep them dry and absorb extra moisture. Lunch sack sized bags are perfect for this!
Avocados – To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft.
Mangoes – To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft.
Cucumbers, Zucchini & Carrots can last quite some time in the refridgerator, but make sure they stay dry and aren’t touching ‘wet’ or juicy produce.
Onions, Potatoes & Yams – may stay out of the fridge, but make sure they stay dry and have air circulating around them. Do not shut them up in a dark closed cabinet or bad things will happen! (Or, they’ll sprout).
Corn – If you are buying corn on the cobb, do NOT peel and discard the husks in the stores! That husk will protect your corn in the refridgerator for up to a week. Peel and clean when ready to prepare.
Radishes – Trim the greens and store the radishes in the refridgerator much like the Carrots. The greens start to wilt quickly, so consider stir frying them up in a little olive oil! They are delicious!
Citrus – Keep out if you plan on eating within a week, otherwise lemons, limes and oranges will do fine in the fridge. They are also nice chilled, so why not!
Apples – It’s almost impossible to kill an apple! Park these in the fridge to make them last, but put the date on the bag so you know how old they are.